If you are dealing with infertility, you have probably heard something about surrogacy. A surrogate is a woman who will carry a child for an infertile couple. In most cases, an egg from a woman who cannot carry a pregnancy is fertilized in vitro (outside of the body) by her husband’s sperm (IVF). Then, one or more of those embryos are implanted into the surrogate’s uterus. The result is that she is not biologically related to the child she carries.
Surrogates are considered for certain types of female infertility, when a woman cannot get pregnant or cannot carry a pregnancy. This could be because her uterus is too damaged to allow a pregnancy to occur; it could be because she had her uterus removed; or she might have a medical condition making pregnancy impossible or very dangerous. However, she should be healthy enough to parent a child. If she has healthy eggs, they can be used.
People who consider surrogacy often feel very strongly that they would prefer a child that is related to them biologically over an adopted child. If you are considering surrogacy, you should know that if you have eggs to donate, you will be the biologic mother of the child. If your husband’s sperm is used to fertilize the egg, he will be the biologic father. The surrogate will simply carry the baby for you. This involves both financial and legal considerations. The specific laws, or lack of laws, vary from state to state and are in flux. There are even places where surrogacy is illegal. There are also places with good laws to protect all the parties.
If you are considering surrogacy, you need a lawyer who knows this field, as well as a reputable agency to help you find a surrogate. There will be legal costs; medical bills for the egg and sperm collection, in vitro fertilization, and embryo transfer; as well as the surrogate’s pregnancy and related costs. You will probably be paying more than just her medical bills, and the cost can easily exceed $100,000.
Surrogacy can also be considered if you do not have eggs to donate. This can become a legal quagmire, and in fact has proved difficult if the woman who donates the egg is also the surrogate. She is then the child’s biologic mother, and if she does not want to give up the child in the end, she may have some rights. Many suggest that if you do not have eggs and cannot carry a pregnancy, you should get an egg donated by someone other than the surrogate. That egg will then be fertilized by your husband’s sperm, and the surrogate would not be biologically related to the child.
Every surrogacy situation is different. There are women who are very happy to help an infertile couple have a family. Some surrogates consider it similar to organ donation. Sometimes, a family member or friend is willing to carry a child. In this case, the costs may be reduced, but the emotional connections will be very different. For example, one woman carried her daughter’s baby.
There are no reliable, definitive statistics on how many surrogates there are, although it is thought to be in the thousands every year. It may be the only way for some infertile couples to have children to whom one or both of them will be biologically related. If you are dealing with infertility and you feel very strongly that you do not want to adopt if you can find another way, surrogacy may be something you should consider.